Editorial – Smith must listen to Albertans, not promote her agenda

Richard Froese

Alberta has a new premier and the United Conservative Party has a new leader.
Former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith was announced the winner Oct. 6 to succeed Jason Kenney. She received 53.8 per cent of the vote on the sixth ballot.
It’s not exactly a resounding vote of confidence like Pierre Poilievre got when he received 68.15 per cent of the vote on the first ballot Sept. 10 to become the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Smith’s support also isn’t too far ahead of the UCP leadership review for Kenney who got 51.4 per cent.
If UCP party members aren’t strongly sold on Smith as leader and premier, how does the party expect to win support in the next provincial election set for next May?
What if the new premier and the UCP lose the election? Will the party turf Smith and elect a new leader?
Although it seems Albertans are not too eager for the NDP to return to power, the new premier and UCP are not such as easy sell according to a story in the Edmonton Sun on Oct. 1.
Results of an Angus Reid poll conducted from Sept. 19-22 show that respondents have little faith in the perceived front runners – Smith, former Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and Grande Prairie – Wapiti MLA and former finance minister Travis Toews. Results showed Smith was the least favourable among the top three candidates as 54 per cent of respondents agreed she’d be a terrible or bad premier.
Jean had a negative rating of 47 per cent and Toews was at 37 per cent.
On the positive side, Jean recorded 37 per cent of support while Smith and Toews were tied at 32 per cent.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley and the party didn’t fare well either as 52 per cent of respondents stated the province would not be well-served with another NDP government.
It seemed the UCP leadership frontrunners were also out of touch with UCP voters.
Right from the start of the leadership campaign in May, the top contenders pushed their issues with the federal government and the proposed Alberta provincial police force.
A poll early in the leadership race indicated Albertans wanted the new leader to focus on rebuilding the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and the cost of living and dealing with heath-care crises, such as the shortage of physicians, nurses and other heath professional and hospital departments closing for short times periodically.
Many political experts say the leadership race was divisive and damaging to the party and could even hurt the UCP at the polls.
If the UCP and Smith want to win the next election, they must listen and respond more to the priorities of Albertans, not simply their own agenda.

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